When speaking of Danish furniture design, it is hard to avoid chairs, sideboards and tables made in teak tree. The golden-brown type of wood has in many ways has become a synonym on the world-famous furniture classics from design-gurus like Fritz Hansen in the city of Hillerød north of Copenhagen. But times changes and today a great deal of Danish furniture is Made In Thailand.
A convenient location close to the raw material, the trees which fill up many plantations in Thailand, low production costs, stick regulation on copying compared with other southeast Asian countries and especially a reliable local partner, who understands the philosophy behind Danish Design. The two producers of Danish teak-design Kircodan Funiture A/S and Koefoed Danmark Aps are not in doubt. Thailand is the best place.
”Because of the production cost it is completely necessary to produce in foreign countries today, with the Danish prices it is impossible, but out here the prices are competitive” says Jes Kirkegaard, who is the manager in Kircodan. “Compared with the surrounding countries Thailand is far ahead, when it comes to quality and anti-copying laws” he ads.
An understanding for Danish Design
But there is no easy way to a Thai success. If the quality of the oriental produced furniture must live up to the Danish standards it is absolutely necessary to find the right local producer, according to the two Danish companies.
“Of course it has demanded a fair bit of research to find the right local partner, who would understand the high standards for the quality. Our buyers are very keen on quality, so it is of great importance not to compromise, just because you move the production to Asia” Jes Kirkegaard explains. Both of the producers get their furniture produced at the Thai furniture factory OK Wood in Bangkok, and in Kircodan’s case the partnership has lasted for three decades, as it can be dated back to 1987.
“We started our Thai production at OK Wood and have a great confidence in each other. This is very important when you live on different continents. We are very satisfied with the partnership and Thanun Oukomul, who is the manager of OK Woods, is by the way a big fan of Danish Design himself” says Jes Kirkegaard. Despite fact that the Danish and Thai understanding of the importance of punctuality sometimes collides, both the Danish producers are happy with the Thai engagement.
“It has actually been surprisingly few problems related to moving our production from Denmark to OK Wood. Even though Thais sometimes has a looser approach towards deadlines than Scandinavians do, I am convinced that we have found the right business partner” tells Peter Koefoed, who has been working together with OK Wood since 2004.
Japanese interest in Danish Teak
Thanun Ounkomol is definitely not the only non-Danish, who likes the modern Danish furniture in teak. The Two Danes stand at the Thailand International Furniture Fair in march– which exhibits more than 35.000 square metres of international furniture-design for the Southeast Asian buyers – was very popular. At the Fair in Bangkok the Danish Design caught the eyes of especially the Japanese and middle eastern furniture stores. Today the furniture of Koefoed and Kircodan is primary being sold on the north American, German and Scandinavian marked, but in the resent years they have experienced an increasing demand from Asia, and especially Japan.
“The Japanese are very interested in us, the simplicity of Scandinavian design fits very well with the Japanese traditions, in that perspective it is a great logistic advantage for us, that we have the production in Thailand” says Peter Koefoed. Today the two Danish furniture-producers have a common agent in Japan to reprecent the Danish teak on the lucrative and trendsetting Japanese marked.
“When it comes to Danish wooden furniture, the interest from Japan is impressive. Actually, some of the Danish classics are more popular over there, than they are in Denmark. Japanese trends are also quite influential on the rest of east Asia, so it is a marked with a great potential” Peter Koefoed ads.
Goodbye to the dusty image
Even though the heritage from the Danish design from the 1950 is quite present, it does not mean, that furniture made of teak has not developed itself into the new millennium. For instance the two firms now combine the wood with other material such as glass and steel to reach out to the younger audience.
“Today people are much busier than before, so not everyone has the time to oil and take care of their furniture. So today we compliment with HDF and plastic materials, which have a ten year guarantee without requiring any maintaining” Jes Kirkegaard says. But that does not mean that the golden brown type of wood is about to retire.
“I don’t think that teak ever goes out of style, numerous times throughout history the materiel has been reinvented in new shapes, and to many people, there is a timeless quality to it, with the present economic downturn people have a tendency to choose long-term classics like teak over momentary trends” Peter Koefoed says.